We need partiesor we have chaos

Published 8:09 am Thursday, March 27, 2003

By Staff
Are we living at a time when the status of political parties has, to some extent, faded away? In reality, does one's party have the same meaning today that this same party had for grandpa 75 years ago?
We look at the party or parties in terms perhaps that one has his name on the books of one party, but he really cannot recall which party claims him.
We can look long and hard at political parties today and if we are honest with ourselves we will realize the predicament in which political parties find themselves today.
Old Joe Blow lives out in Podunk. He manages to go to the polls most of the time to cast a ballot, if he is sober enough. But when he is in his right mind, he proclaims loud and clear that he votes for the man and not the party. Yet, all he knows about a candidate for president is what he reads or hears. He is a registered Democrat, but he voted for George Bush because he liked the name of Bush better than the name of Gore. Of course, one reason is as good as any other reason.
Now comes the big question. Why have political parties anyway? We hear people asking that question, but too few try to answer it intelligently. Admittedly, voting for the man instead of the party sounds extremely good and truly American. But let us examine the subject a bit. Yes, in town or county elections we might get to know most of the candidates. But from whence comes the real job of explaining platforms? Today we realize that more and more candidates are refusing to state their party registration when announcing the candidacy for town or county office. But if we had no party, each candidate somehow would try to establish a party to promote his candidacy.
For president of the United States or even governor of a state, the party is very important. Today the leading candidates for both the president and the governor are Democrats and Republicans. But there are a half dozen lesser candidates, but outside of some third party candidate, so often none of us can call the names of the other candidates. Being a candidate of a given political party gives a candidate a sense of belonging. Without political parties we might have 25 people running for president and a like number running for governor. In truth, political parties tend to separate the boys from the men or the women from the girls.
In a real sense as we go to the polls or as we stay at home, we inwardly judge a candidate not because of the party but because of the candidate put forth by the party. So, in a true sense, we do vote for the candidate usually put forth by a political party. We, of course, do not vote for the party but for the party's candidate.
We can be critical of parties, but when the chips are down and without realizing it the average voter might look at this or that candidate who belongs to this or that party and mark his ballot. Without political parties, we would have political chaos.